The Little Princess; One Girl’s Future

Once upon a time there lived a little princess, who was the apple of her kingdoms’s eye and dearly beloved by all her adoring loyal subjects. She was just a little girl but she was kind, loving and honest – as every good little princess should be. She wore pretty dresses and fought the guards with wooden swords. She chased chickens around the barn and spent hours colouring in picture books. She had rosy cheeks, twinkles in her eyes and a giggle to melt even the most hardened of hearts.

Every night as she was tucked into her bed by her loving parents, she was told she could be anything she wanted. That there was no such thing as too big a dream. Her parents wanted their little princess to know that she would always be loved and supported – not just by them, but the entire kingdom. The little princess would one day rule the kingdom and none could wait to watch her grow into the woman of their future. The little princess would fall asleep wondering about the possibilities; would she be an architect? Perhaps a gardener?A professional ice hockey player? She’d drift into contentedness upon deciding that she would be all of them. You see, this little princess need not wait for happily ever after – for she had been born into a world of love and tenderness; a world where she was cherished and inspired others to protect her precious innocence at all costs. This would not be a little princess story though, without a dose of tragedy for our ill fated heroine, would it?

So on a day much like any other, our little princess found herself playing in the courtyard with her dolly and her dinosaur, when her beloved parents and rulers of the kingdom knelt down beside her in the sunshine – wiping her fringe from her forehead as she looked up at them adoringly as they lifted her into their arms. The little princess could not understand why their chests heaved with sobs and tears tracked down their faces. She placed a palm to each of their cheeks and smiled sweetly up at them; in the hope her own happiness might flow through her to them. Instead of clasping her little hands, she was fumbled into another set; a coarse, rough pair of hands. Hands that did not hold her as if she were a flower; hands that did not gather her to a warm chest. Hands that gripped and pinched her arm so tightly that she cried out. Why was this man, who had set her upon the ground – still gripping her wrist – why was he allowed to hurt her so? But before the little princess had time to ask such a question, she was being pulled away by this coarse, rough man. She turned, looking frantically at her parents, her beautiful eyes widening in fear as she watched them standing still like statues; frozen in time. She began to scream. Dropping to her knees in the hope to slow this strange man down, he yanked at her arm and dragged her kicking and screaming, away from her parents, away from her home.

Through the streets he dragged her and as she passed by every one of her loyal subjects, all turned away. They could not see her. They did not want to see her. Her wailing did not stop; hysteria clawing at her chest. Her fear swallowed her whole, and she did not understand. There must be a mistake. Her parents loved her. Her kingdom loved her. Who was this horrible, terrifying man? As her tired little chest heaved with deep, harrowing sobs and her wailing turned to whimpering, she never stopped looking back up the road where her beloved parents had stood.

The little princess found herself thrown into a dark, dank room. There was no soft bed, no toys or books. No pretty dresses or dinosaurs. In the coming days and weeks, she believed her parents would come for her. They would save her and it was all a horrible mix up. Her little princess heart flickered in hope… surely? But they did not. They never would.

The little princess would clean the house and cook for the terrifying stranger – who’s grey temples and sunken, weathered skin were so foreign. He told her she was no longer a little princess; she was his wife and one day soon, when her womanhood came, she would be a mother.

The little princess flinched at the strangers touch when he came calling. Long gone were the days of colouring books and chasing chickens. It did not matter to the stranger that her womanhood was a while away; he was happy to keep her in his bed. She tried to remember the times she had been cuddled by her parents instead of this wrinkly wretched man, reaching for her.

Her womanhood would eventually come and the little princess would be a mother before she was a teenager. She would suffer the birth of her baby alone, in a dark room with no one to hold her; comfort her. She would clean herself up and the child. How the baby screamed; echoing the not so distant sounds of her own.

The little princess would grow into a young woman who only knew how to cook and clean. She would scrubs stains from bedsheets and clothing. Wrap scraps to save them for seconds. She would have many children. Some of them did not make it. There were times she did not think her body would make it. She would come to learn that her parents had sold her to settle a debt. That they could not afford to keep her and so the love of her parents and the kingdom became lost memories; they no longer belonged to her.

The little princess never learned to read or write. She did not escape the stranger. She was a mother to many, relying on the old man to provide for them for she knew nothing; could do nothing. She could not shape her future for she had none. She was doomed to depend on the old man and when he was gone? She would sell herself to the night to survive.

The little princess lives in Sierra Leone.

And Uganda.

And India.

And Afghanistan.

And many, many more places.

The little princess isn’t a cautionary fairytale – it’s real life for too many little girls.

It’s easy to pretend that the little princess is only a story because it then absolves us of any responsibility. We can hide from the truth because understanding it is difficult to bear when we are so far removed from it and can do so frustratingly little.

But we can do something. I am trying to do something.

One Girl is a not for profit organisation that provides scholarships to girls in Sierra Leone and Uganda. By providing scholarships for the entirety of their education, One Girl is helping give girls the opportunity to decide their own future. To be little girls and dare to dream. I am an ambassador for One Girl and I am trying to raise enough funds to provide scholarships to 10 girls.

In Sierra Leone, 44% of girls are forced into marriage before they turn 18 and girls as young as 11 have been sold to men who are old enough to be their father. Think of the girls your know and just consider that statistic; almost every second girl you can think of, is sold into marriage. There are 60 million girls not in school around the world. 60 MILLION.

More than 70% of people in Sierra Leone live on less than $2 a day; which means the luxury of schooling is something far beyond their means – if a family can afford schooling, a boy will almost always be the chosen one to attend. The level of poverty means girls are forced to sell their bodies for food and money to survive. 2 in 3 girls don’t attend high school (in Uganda it’s 4 out of 5) and almost half of all female youth in Sierra Leone (15-24) are ILLITERATE.

We are trying to change these statistics.

An educated girl will invest 90% of her income into her family and is twice as likely to educate her own children. For each additional year in school, a girl will increase her income by 10-25%. Imagine what happens when this happens in generations to follow.

One Girl not only provides scholarships for girls education, but also provides initiatives called Launchpad and Business brains that allows girls to invest in their future by setting up their own businesses that empower themselves and women in their communities. One Girl is giving girls and young women their equal right to an education and the opportunity to choose for themselves, the life they want to lead. By providing scholarships for an education, they are giving girls the ability to be heard; to speak their minds, fight for their rights and determine their own futures.

I am an ambassador for One Girl because I want to stand and be the voice of little girls who do not yet know they have their own. I will fight for opportunity, equality and education on their behalf until they are able to do so themselves. I do not need to change the world; that is a mighty daunting task but if I can make a difference to ONE GIRL? Well, she IS the future and I think that’s worth speaking up for.

There are a lot of amazing NGO’s out there and the weight of guilt for being dealt a luckier hand from fate is often one we try to repress – how can we care about every cause when there are so many? I can’t help you answer that.

But $25 buys a year worth of sanitary pads. That’s ONE cocktail. $50 buys 5 pairs of school shoes. That’s ONE taxi ride. $300 provides a YEARS EDUCATION for one girl. That’s ¬† changing someone’s entire world.

It is education that changes people, perspective and power. It is education that teaches us to understand our self worth. I will champion education because all little girls ARE princesses and deserve to chase a dream of their own choosing. If you can spare a donation, you will be giving a little girl a future she deserves.

We can make sure that the little princess’ story remains exactly that.

A story.

 

As an ambassador it is my goal to raise $3000 – which is the equivalent of 10 scholarships. If you would like to assist me reach this goal, please click on the link below;

http://www.doitinadress.com/clare-jorgensen

Or if you would like further information about One Girl and its initiatives, please go to;

https://www.onegirl.org.au

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